14 April 2013

Things were so much bigger in the past...

Working up in the loft I found the box for one of my old Compaq PCs

The Box in which my Compaq Model 1* arrived - with a Raspberry Pi Model B for Comparison

Source: http://oldcomputers.net/compaqi.html

*The label says Model 1 and Fixed Disk Dr.. 0, but I cannot be sure are there are no dates on any of the shipping labels.   I used a Model 1 in late 1985 - I remember taking it home at Xmas to show my dad - it was a devil to carry - the strap cut into my hands - meaning lots of stops.  This bloke must have palms of steel:

Source: http://oldcomputers.net/compaqi.html

I remember wasting many hours playing "Sopwith" and "Snipes".  Both were networkable multiplayer games - in 1986!

15 years later I showed these to my nephew - graphics laughable but game-play - 5 stars.

Sopwith - you can still play this - need a copy of DOSBOX

Confusingly the addressee is "Barrie Bate" - who was chief engineer for R&D - while I was working in Assortments Manufacturing - but the consignment was for 4 units so I guess they could have been centrally purchased and then distributed.  

My next Compaq was a portable III - much more practical:

Source: http://oldcomputers.net/compaqiii.html
I lugged one of these to Marlbrook and back between 1987 and 1990 - eventually being replaced with a Compaq LTE in 1990 (not sure of the model but there was a big argument about HD costs, in the end we got one PC with 40MB and a second with only 20MB).  It even came with a docking station...

Eventually I got an LTE 386 with an upgrade to 6MB RAM total (£200 - a gift from Adrian Brelsforth our electrical engineer) - now I had the fastest and best endowed laptop in the whole company - still using DOS though - but I could task switch between two programs.

All these portables were properly robust - I can't remember exactly which model it was but in 1990 we managed to spray two of them with about 1000 litres of water (we were programming a batch weigher and when it came to the water-addition-step it became clear that someone had not sufficiently tightened the base of the water valve).  Putting both PCs repeatedly through the shrink wrap tunnel dried them out but we could not get them to boot - turned out that the PC was fine just the mains convertor module had failed - and easy and cheap fix.

Cost Weight Processor RAM Storage
Compaq Model 1 $3600* 28lb 4.77MHz 640K 2 x 320K 5.25” floppy drives
Compaq III $5000 20lb 12MHz 640K 20MB HD, 1 x 1.2MB 5.25” floppy drive
Compaq LTE 286 $4500 6.7lb 12MHz 640K 40MB HD, 1 x 1.44MB 3” floppy drive
Raspberry Pi Model B $35 1.6Oz 700MHz 512MB None!

1983 dollars - in 2012 dollars this is $8400 using US CPI - funny I thought we had more inflation than that...

13 April 2013

Close but no Cigar, only Cardiology

The story behind this result...

Parkrun is addictive. Woke up at 06:00 this morning feeling "right crook" - I should really give parkrun a miss.  Just in case I had my early breakfast and re-hydration - and by 08:20 I felt OK to "turn up and start and if I end up walking...".

Starting near the back is strange, beyond even the grey-haired-but-built-like-a-whippet super vets and right in the middle of the social runner, joggers, wobblers and keen-to-get-fit.

Within 500m I caught up with my friend Liz Connolly (aka Naylor) - who since we last orienteering together has had time to raise two kids (one to near adulthood) and has taken up fell running.  Liz commented that there no 25 minute pacemaker this week - and she was determined to better her previous run and go sub 25.

"I'll be your pacemaker!"

Using my watch and course knowledge (Cannon Hill is about 5.08km long by GPS and starting at the back adds about another 40m) I set a steady pace and at the final turn we were about a second up on schedule.  Judging by determined but near asthmatic breathing coming  Liz was nearing her limit - no point in sprinting and as she passed me I counted us down the last 100 metres, crossing the line in 25:00 exactly meaning Liz one place in front would be sub 25.

What a disappointment - but on closer inspection my watch said 25:00.83 and then there is my reaction time starting the watch.

On the positive side - Liz still has a target to aim for,  I felt fine running at 5 mpk so I will go orienteering tomorrow and I think next time I feel a bit slow I will volunteer as pacemaker...

On returning home there was a little surprise...

Unrequested and Unexplained Cardiology Appointment

I am running very well at present but it seems the Birmingham NHS appointments computer must have a psychic subroutine and knows something I don't because this is the  first I have heard about my "heart condition".   I have not been to the GP in about a year - and that was for dermatitis.

My (NHS) surgeon neighbour says I should take the appointment as I might not get a second chance and if I try to tell the NHS bureaucracy there has been an error very bad things could happen to me...

This is what happens when you point out that, as a result of a one letter spelling mistake, the wrong person has been 'eliminated' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazil_%28film%29)